100 books like A History of Pi

By Petr Beckmann,

Here are 100 books that A History of Pi fans have personally recommended if you like A History of Pi. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of What Is the Name of This Book?: The Riddle of Dracula and Other Logical Puzzles

Martin Cohen Author Of Rethinking Thinking: Problem Solving from Sun Tzu to Google

From my list on thinking skills.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most of my books (101 Philosophy Problems, Wittgenstein's Beetle, Critical Thinking for Dummies, and so on) are on thinking skills, in the broad sense. However, I'm always a bit uncomfortable when I'm presented as an expert on thinking, as people tend to imagine I must have some brainy strategies for thinking better when my interest is also in the ways we "think badly." Because logic is really a blunt tool, compared to the brilliant insights that come with intuition. Yet how do you train your intuition? So the books I've chosen here are all ones that I've found don't so much tell you how to think, but actually get you thinking. And that's always been my aim in my books too.

Martin's book list on thinking skills

Martin Cohen Why did Martin love this book?

Raymond Smullyan is a riddler, a puzzler, well-known for various Knights and Knaves puzzles, a type of logic game where some characters can only answer questions truthfully, and others only falsely. However, I recommend this book as here he offers not only logical tricks but many insights too. One section offers the World's shortest explanation of Gödel's theorem which is a magnificent achievement but frankly, reminds me why I like long explanations sometimes.

Basically, this is an examination of boolean logic, which is (rather boringly) a branch of algebra in which all operations are either true or false, and relationships are expressed with logical operators such as and, or, or not. So it’s serious stuff, but also pretty funny along the way.

By Raymond M. Smullyan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked What Is the Name of This Book? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The most original, most profound, and most humorous collection of recreational logic and math problems ever written." — Martin Gardner, Scientific American
"The value of the book lies in the wealth of ingenious puzzles. They afford amusement, vigorous exercise, and instruction." — Willard Van Orman Quine, The New York Times Book Review
If you're intrigued by puzzles and paradoxes, these 200 mind-bending logic puzzles, riddles, and diversions will thrill you with challenges to your powers of reason and common sense. Raymond M. Smullyan — a celebrated mathematician, logician, magician, and author — presents a logical labyrinth of more than 200…


Book cover of Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value

Steven E. Landsburg Author Of Can You Outsmart an Economist?

From my list on the biggest questions.

Why am I passionate about this?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about things like why there is something instead of nothing, why we can remember the past but not the future, and how consciousness arises. Although I’m a professor of economics, I take such things seriously enough to have published some papers in philosophy journals, and even a whole book about philosophy called The Big Questions. These are some of the books that sharpened my thinking, inspired me to think more deeply, and convinced me that good writing can render deep ideas both accessible and fun.

Steven's book list on the biggest questions

Steven E. Landsburg Why did Steven love this book?

Would you guess that the average daily temperature in San Francisco is above or below 558 degrees Fahrenheit?

I'm going to assume you guessed "below", because that's the right answer and absolutely everybody gets it right.

Now---what would you guess is the actual average daily temperature in San Francisco? If you are like just about everybody, your guess right now is quite a bit higher than the guess you’d have made a minute ago, before you saw my first (entirely ludicrous) question. This well-documented effect persists even when subjects are told about it and warned not to fall prey to it.

Perhaps I’m overestimating, but I believe this book contains about 14 billion equally fascinating and weird facts about how human minds process information. But although these facts are quirky, they are not quirks --- they are central to the working of the human mind, not just little mistakes we…

By William Poundstone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Priceless as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Prada stores carry a few obscenely expensive items in order to boost sales for everything else (which look like bargains in comparison). People used to download music for free, then Steve Jobs convinced them to pay. How? By charging 99 cents. That price has a hypnotic effect: the profit margin of the 99 Cents Only store is twice that of Wal-Mart. Why do text messages cost money, while e-mails are free? Why do jars of peanut butter keep getting smaller in order to keep the price the "same"? The answer is simple: prices are a collective hallucination.

In Priceless, the…


Book cover of Time and Chance

Steven E. Landsburg Author Of Can You Outsmart an Economist?

From my list on the biggest questions.

Why am I passionate about this?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about things like why there is something instead of nothing, why we can remember the past but not the future, and how consciousness arises. Although I’m a professor of economics, I take such things seriously enough to have published some papers in philosophy journals, and even a whole book about philosophy called The Big Questions. These are some of the books that sharpened my thinking, inspired me to think more deeply, and convinced me that good writing can render deep ideas both accessible and fun.

Steven's book list on the biggest questions

Steven E. Landsburg Why did Steven love this book?

I vividly remember reading this book some years ago. You probably don’t remember it at all, even if you’re going to take my advice and read it tomorrow. That’s pretty odd when you think about. Why should we remember the past but not the future?

It does no good to echo platitudes like “the future hasn’t happened yet”. You could as well say “the past is already over”, which is equally true and equally irrelevant. The laws of physics tie the past to the present and the future to the present in exactly the same way. Any process that can run one direction in time can run in the other. So if the past can leave imprints on our memory, why can’t the future?

David Albert wants to make you appreciate the question, and then he wants to tell you the answer. Albert is that rarest of birds: A philosopher…

By David Z. Albert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Time and Chance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is an attempt to get to the bottom of an acute and perennial tension between our best scientific pictures of the fundamental physical structure of the world and our everyday empirical experience of it. The trouble is about the direction of time. The situation (very briefly) is that it is a consequence of almost every one of those fundamental scientific pictures--and that it is at the same time radically at odds with our common sense--that whatever can happen can just as naturally happen backwards.

Albert provides an unprecedentedly clear, lively, and systematic new account--in the context of a…


Book cover of Consciousness Explained

Matthew Hutson Author Of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane

From my list on consciousness and how our brain works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a freelance science reporter and Contributing Writer at The New Yorker, with degrees in cognitive neuroscience and science writing. Growing up, I wanted to understand the fundamental nature of the universe—who doesn’t?!—and grew interested in physics, before realizing our only contact with outside reality (if it exists) is through consciousness. Today I cover psychology and artificial intelligence, among other topics. Can machines be conscious? I don’t know. Why does consciousness exist at all? I don’t know that either. But if there’s anything at all that’s magic in the universe, it’s consciousness.

Matthew's book list on consciousness and how our brain works

Matthew Hutson Why did Matthew love this book?

We tend to picture an observer inside our heads experiencing consciousness as if watching a movie. But that just pushes explanation back a level: What’s inside that observer? The prolific philosopher Daniel Dennett dismantles many common intuitions about awareness, showing them to be illusions hiding the intricate and deceptive mechanics of the mind and brain. This was one of the first books on consciousness I read. I don’t agree with everything Dennett has to say on the matter, but he’s a great guide to think with.

By Daniel C. Dennett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Consciousness Explained as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Consciousness Explained, Daniel C. Dennett reveals the secrets of one of the last remaining mysteries of the universe: the human brain.

Daniel C. Dennett's now-classic book blends philosophy, psychology and neuroscience - with the aid of numerous examples and thought-experiments - to explore how consciousness has evolved, and how a modern understanding of the human mind is radically different from conventional explanations of consciousness.

What people think of as the stream of consciousness is not a single, unified sequence, the author argues, but 'multiple drafts' of reality composed by a computer-like 'virtual machine'.

Dennett explains how science has exploded…


Book cover of By Love Divided

Anna Belfrage Author Of In the Shadow of the Storm

From my list on gritty historical fiction with a pinch of love.

Why am I passionate about this?

Give me a castle ruin or guide me through ancient Roman mosaics and you make my day. Accordingly, my preferred reading is historical fiction. I read (and review) lots of it, like 100 books/year. I am also ridiculously romantic. I want there to be some heart with the blood and war, I want characters I can root for despite the horrifying odds facing them. I want protagonists that step out of the past to drag me back with them. When I read, these are the books I choose. When I write, these are the books I aspire to create—Romantic Historical Fiction, if you will.

Anna's book list on gritty historical fiction with a pinch of love

Anna Belfrage Why did Anna love this book?

I have a passion for the 17th century and this novel based on actual diaries and letters from IRL people living through the realities of the English Civil War is a favourite. Ms. St. John writes about her own ancestors, and she imbues her characters with so much life, so many contrary opinions. These are difficult times, and especially for mother Lucy St. John whose son is a through-and-through royalist while daughter Luce is head-over-heels in love with Parliamentarian John Hutchinson. Luce is utterly fascinating: intelligent and with a passion to truly reform, she never loses her humanity or her ability for compassion. This novel is a real treat for anyone desiring well-researched historical fiction – with the added benefit of having a spoonful or two of love to complicate things! 

By Elizabeth St. John,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Love Divided as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

”A fantastic read." Editor’s Choice, Historical Novel Society

London, 1630. Widowed and destitute, Lucy St.John is fighting for survival and makes a terrible choice to secure a future for her children. Worse still, her daughter Luce rejects the royal court and a wealthy arranged marriage, and falls in love with a charismatic soldier. As England tumbles toward bloody civil war, Luce’s beloved brother Allen chooses to fight for the king as a cavalier. Allen and Luce are swept up in the chaos of war as they defend their opposing causes and protect those they love.

Will war unite or divide…


Book cover of Grand Quarrel: Women's Memoirs of the English Civil War

Tim Pears Author Of The Redeemed

From my list on memories of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I dig deep for research for my novels and am entranced by history. It is the soil we grow from; without a sense of history, we have shallow roots. Many history books, however, are academic and tedious. Accounts by living witnesses – from interviews, letters, diaries – bring the past to life with vivid detail.

Tim's book list on memories of war

Tim Pears Why did Tim love this book?

A compilation of memoirs and letters by six women from the English Civil War. Immersed in research for a novel, I was up to my ears in pamphlets and battlefields, troop movements, and religious schism; I opened The Grand Quarrel and began reading Brilliana, Lady Harley’s letters to her son at Oxford. (‘I have sent you some juice of liquorice, which you may keep to make use of, if you should have a cold.’)The past was suddenly refreshed.

By Roger Hudson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grand Quarrel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work draws together the memoirs of women involved in the English Civil War, on both sides. The accounts of wives and daughters provide an insight into women's experiences of the time for general reader and historian alike. They include the Duchess of Newcastle (who has been called "the first English woman writer") on her husband's role at the battle of Marston Moor in 1644; royalist Lucy Hutchinson, whose writing has the immediacy of a diary; Ann Fanshawe's memoirs of 1676, written so a son could know a father killed in battle (and valued by Virginia Woolf for their "candour…


Book cover of The Children of the New Forest

Stella Riley Author Of The Black Madonna

From my list on books set in 17th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of sixteen novels—six of them set in the mid-seventeenth century. The English Civil Wars and their aftermath is a period very close to my heartcombining as it does fascinating personalities, incredibly complicated politics, and all the drama and bloodshed of civil conflict. My greatest pleasure has been finding and featuring real men whose names are now largely forgotten.

Stella's book list on books set in 17th century England

Stella Riley Why did Stella love this book?

First published in 1847, the writing style seems somewhat ponderous these days. I read it when I was about twelve—and this is where I discovered the English Civil War. It begins in 1647 and tells the story of four children who, their home burned by Parliamentary soldiers, flee to hide in the forest during a time of danger, persecution, and war. Its bias is unashamedly Royalist but that isn’t necessarily a flaw.

By Frederick Marryat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Children of the New Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


Book cover of The King's General

Stella Riley Author Of The Black Madonna

From my list on books set in 17th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of sixteen novels—six of them set in the mid-seventeenth century. The English Civil Wars and their aftermath is a period very close to my heartcombining as it does fascinating personalities, incredibly complicated politics, and all the drama and bloodshed of civil conflict. My greatest pleasure has been finding and featuring real men whose names are now largely forgotten.

Stella's book list on books set in 17th century England

Stella Riley Why did Stella love this book?

Set in Cornwall, before and during the Civil War, this is a terrific tale based upon the lives of real people—most notably, perhaps, Sir Richard Grenville the King’s General in the West. It’s the story of the Rashleigh Family and Menabilly—where Daphne du Maurier herself lived.

Well written as one would expect of du Maurier—it’s a beautiful story, beautifully told; absorbing, exciting and hard to put down.

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The King's General as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by a grisly discovery in the nineteenth century, The King's General was the first of du Maurier's novels to be written at Menabilly, the model for Manderley in Rebecca. Set in the seventeenth century, it tells the story of a country and a family riven by civil war, and features one of fiction's most original heroines. Honor Harris is only eighteen when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless - and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies,…


Book cover of Areopagitica and Other Writings

Ben Hutchinson Author Of On Purpose: Ten Lessons on the Meaning of Life

From my list on essays to help us think for ourselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an essayist, literary critic, and professor of literature, books are what John Milton calls my ‘pretious life-blood.’ As a writer, teacher, and editor, I spend my days trying to make meaning out of reading. This is the idea behind my most recent book, On Purpose: it’s easy to make vague claims about the edifying powers of ‘great writing,’ but what does this actually mean? How can literature help us live? My five recommendations all help us reflect on the power of books to help us think for ourselves, as I hope do my own books, including The Midlife Mind (2020) and Comparative Literature: A Very Short Introduction (2018).

Ben's book list on essays to help us think for ourselves

Ben Hutchinson Why did Ben love this book?

Written at the height of the English Civil War, this is perhaps the single most important manifesto for free speech in the English language. But it’s also surprisingly good fun, composed in a vivid, memorable style that brings abstract concepts to life.

Advocating what he terms ‘promiscuous reading,’ Milton encourages us to think for ourselves and resist intellectual authoritarianism. I love his argument for the importance of reading in cultivating independent thought: "A good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm’d and treasur’d up on purpose to a life beyond life." As a writer and literary critic, this life-blood is precious to me, too.

By John Milton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Areopagitica and Other Writings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Milton was celebrated and denounced in his own time both as a poet and as a polemicist. Today he is remembered first and foremost for his poetry, but his great epic Paradise Lost was published very late in his life, in 1667, and in his own time most readers more readily recognised Milton as a writer of prose. This superbly annotated new book is an authoritative edition of Milton's major prose works, including Of Education, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates and the Divorce tracts, as well as the famous 1644 polemical tract on the opposing licensing and censorship,…


Book cover of The Stranger Prince: The Story of Rupert of the Rhine

Mary Lancaster Author Of A Prince to be Feared: The Love Story of Vlad Dracula

From my list on controversial historical heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scottish writer of historical fiction and historical romance. I’m also a history graduate with imagination, by which I mean I’m as interested in what might have happened as what definitely did! So much of history is open to interpretation, taking account of who wrote what for whom, and why, and that is a large part of what fascinates me. And of course, I love a good historical novel that combines compelling writing with excellent research—especially when a controversial hero is shown in a new or captivating light.

Mary's book list on controversial historical heroes

Mary Lancaster Why did Mary love this book?

I first read this in my teens and was utterly blown away. It tells the story of the young Prince Rupert of the Rhine, most famous for fighting for his uncle, King Charles the First in the English Civil Wars. I knew little about “Roundheads and Cavaliers” at the time but had the vague idea that cavaliers were silly dandies with long hair who deserved to lose, and that Rupert was a mere mercenary desperate to make money out of someone else’s war. The Rupert of this beautifully written and impeccably researched novel is so much moredashing, yes, and fascinated by war, but also skilled, thoughtful, honourable, loyal, and unexpectedly vulnerable to those he loves. I believed in Ms. Irwin’s Rupert utterly. After my own studies, I still do.

By Margaret Irwin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Stranger Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Story of Rupert of the Rhine


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the English Civil War, math, and Charles II of England?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the English Civil War, math, and Charles II of England.

The English Civil War Explore 16 books about the English Civil War
Math Explore 257 books about math
Charles II Of England Explore 14 books about Charles II of England